Monday, March 26, 2018

Are you as good of a parent as yours were?

I'm pretty sure I'd never bring home an accordion for my kids.

That thought ran through my head as Sabrina and I watched a tango performance this weekend. Her violin teacher was playing, and had invited us. There was also a cellist, a pianist and a guy playing an accordion. I thought back to my own childhood, when my dad walked in from work one day carrying a giant black case. Inside lay an accordion. He thought me or my sister might like learn to play it. 

To this day, I have no idea why Dad thought we'd be into the accordion. We never did take lessons, but every once in a while we'd fiddle around with it. That was just like my dad: He enjoyed introducing us to new things. 

As I sat there listening to the beautiful music and watching the dancers, I considered whether I do as much for my children as he'd done for me. I wasn't totally sure.

Puppet shows, ballets, road trips, summers spent in the country to escape the heat of New York: these were all a part of my childhood. Whatever interested me—calligraphy, sewing, collecting old coins—my dad encouraged. When I decided I wanted to play piano, he got me one. He and my mom were always game to watch my sister and me perform in made-up plays. They indulged my love for reading and let me bring books to the dinner table. (Gasp.)

I do my best to encourage my children's interests, whether that's involved traipsing to fire stations with Max or taking Sabrina to lacrosse games. She and I occasionally go to dance or music performances. A few months ago, I took her to see the movie An American in Paris, set to an orchestra, and she loved it (aaaaand Gene Kelly's wife was there to do the introduction, whoa). Dave and I go to the movies with Max, his entertainment medium of choice. We take our kids on trips as often as we can. We sing "Daddy Finger" and "Mommy Finger" and all the finger songs to Ben, his favorites, and DO NOT look them up on YouTube or you, too, will not be able to get them out of your head. You've been warned.

Maybe I felt that stab of guilt because lately, we've been hanging out at home a whole lot. Entire weekends spent watching TV, playing, snacking, watching more TV and chilling. (Not to mention: getting on each others' nerves.) I have literally wondered if I've been wasting my kids' lives away.

Then again, I have no memories of those weekends I spent growing up watching TV and not doing a whole lot of anything—unlike, say, that time Dad took us to dance with Native Americans at a reservation or when we holed up in a rustic cabin in Vermont one summer vacation. I guess experiences are what children most remember when they grow up, along with the comfort of knowing that they were encouraged to be themselves, loved and adored.

Maybe I'm not filling up the kids' calendars every single weekend, maybe I'm not that parent who'd bring home an accordion or a tuba or a recorder in the hopes of sparking someone's interest, but then, I'm not my dad. Our parenting is as unique as our children themselves. I think he'd be proud of me.

All this was swirling through my head as I watched the dancers dancing. I thought of how my dad would have approved of us being there. And then, finally, I tuned in and enjoyed.


  1. Oh I just love the line "our parenting is as unique as our children themselves". So so true!!!

  2. I'm not better or worse than my parents were. But our circumstances are very different. Mom and dad were children of the depression; us 7 kids are all baby-boomers; my mom was a stay-at-home mom until the oldest started college. I'm single (built my family through adoption); I'm an older mom (almost 41 years older than my oldest); I have a child with a disability.

    But I hope they would be proud of how I'm raising my children.

  3. Oh wow, you sing the finger familly songs?! You're a better parent than I'll ever be. They are banned from our house. (So is "Pink Fluffy Unicorn Dancing on Rainbows" - don't google it unless you want to have it in your head for the next three months.) :-)

    1. Well, I could not resist and I think I'm safe because you can't catch the virus from just one listen, right? I think I'm fine but OH NOOOOOOO PINK FLUFFY UNICORNS DANCING ON RAINBOWS....


Thanks for sharing!

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